April 17, 2019 at SRI International, Menlo Park, CA
To answer the iconic question “Are We Alone?”, scientists around the world are also attempting to understand the origin of life. There are many pieces to the puzzle of how life began and many ways to put them together into a big picture. Some of the pieces are firmly established by the laws of chemistry and physics. Others are conjectures about what Earth was like four billion years ago, based on extrapolations of what we know from observing Earth today. However, there are still major gaps in our knowledge and these are necessarily filled in by best guesses.
We invited talented scientists to discuss their different opinions about the origin of life and the site of life’s origin. Most of them will agree that liquid water was necessary, but if we had a time machine and went back in time, would we find life first in a hydrothermal submarine setting in sea water or a fresh water site associated with emerging land masses?
Biologist David Deamer, a Research Professor of Biomolecular Engineering at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and multi-disciplinary scientist Bruce Damer, Associate Researcher in the Department of Biomolecular Engineering at UC Santa Cruz, will describe their most recent work, which infers that hydrothermal pools are the most plausible site for the origin of life. Both biologists have been collaborating since 2016 on a full conception of the Terrestrial Origin of Life Hypothesis.
Lynn Rothschild, Senior Scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center and Adjunct Professor of Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, and Biochemistry at Brown University, who is an astrobiologist/ synthetic biologist specializing in molecular approaches to evolution, particularly in microbes and the application of synthetic biology to NASA's missions, will provide an evolutionary biologist’s perspective on the subject.